New benefits for women under the Affordable Care Act - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

New benefits for women under the Affordable Care Act

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Expectant mother Kristine Kimmel tested negative for gestational diabetes. Starting Aug. 1, most private insurance companies will have to cover screenings for gestational diabetes with no cost for the patient. It's one of eight preventive health care services for women mandated under the Affordable Care Act.

"A perfect example is sexually transmitted infection screenings. A lot of the time we can catch sexually transmitted infections before they turn into a major health problem," said Dr. David Finke of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The covered services are annual well visits for women, screening for gestational diabetes, screening and counseling for domestic violence, contraception, breast-feeding counseling and supplies, HPV testing, counseling for sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV screening and counseling.

An estimated 47 million women are in health plans that must cover these services without co-pays or deductibles. Certain religious organizations such as churches and schools are exempt. The contraception requirement which includes access to the Morning After Pill is highly controversial.

"To force women of religious views and values and certainly pro-life to subsidize, whether it's contraception or abortion-inducing drugs, it's wrong on many levels," said Alice Stewart of Concerned Women for America.

But Kimmel appreciates the new rules, especially the breast-feeding support.

"I know there's all the equipment with the pumps and the tools that you need," she said.

And most women won't get free benefits Aug. 1. The new regulations kick in only when their insurance plan is renewed.

Under the health care law there are also free preventive services for men and children. They include flu shots and other immunizations, screenings for cancers, high blood pressure and cholesterol and depression.

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